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Petition Drive Politics


Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign manager met with 19 members of the Rock Creek GOP Women's Club earlier this week to lay out plans for a petition drive that seeks to challenge early voting. The reason for the challenge, Bo Harmon told the members, is that Ehrlich believes early voting is an invitation to fraud.

Anyone who wants can walk into multiple polling places and vote more than once, Harmon told the members as they ate lunch in Chevy Chase.

We checked in with state election's official Ross Goldstein about this concern, and Goldstein had a different opinion. Certainly it is possible someone might attempt to vote multiple times, he said, but there are safeguards.

For one, Goldstein said, someone trying to vote twice would have to sign their name to ballots twice.

"It's possible you could try it, but you're going to get caught. It's a fraud you're commiting in a very open and public manner. You're signing your name to a paper," Goldstein said.

Also, he said polling places will be outfitted this year with computer lists of voters that will automatically update when someone has voted. That will allow election monitors to verify that everyone only votes once.

Harmon, however, made a persuasive case to the women of the Rock Creek club. Several said they plan to attend an event Saturday where petitions will be passed out, so they can start gathering signatures.

By  |  April 20, 2006; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Ehrlich needs to stop his crying. As I remember reading here on Maryland Moment, the reason early voting is in its current state is due to a committee that Ehrlich assigned not doing its job. Not to mention as Mr. Goldstein said, anyone attempting to vote multiple times would be doing it in a very public and would most likely be caught. Boo hoo hoo Ehrlich.

- Mr. K

Posted by: Mr. K | April 20, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Once again it seems that Mr. Ehrlich just is unaware of what is going on. Early voting is going on in various forms across the country and I have heard of few instances where it has been a problem. It seems to me that he is always a day late to the Barbeque.

Posted by: DC Transplant in Baltimore | April 20, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Would this only affect the General or are they trying to get rid of early voting in the primaries as well?

Posted by: Question | April 20, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

With safeguards in place, such as a constantly updated database that marks people off as they vote, these fears are a red herring.

What Gov. Ehrlich and his supporters are worried about isn't fraud - it's higher voter turn out, which comes along with allowing early voting. Higher voter turn out should always be encouraged, but in MD will certainly mean a greater number of Democrats voting, and that translates to a much tougher re-election effort for the governor.

Posted by: corbett | April 20, 2006 11:16 AM | Report abuse

According to the Attorney General's office, this petition drive, even if successful, could not stop early voting in the 2006 election. Normally, if the minimum threshold of signatures is collected/verified by a specific deadline, the law at issue does not take effect until the voters have their say on a referendum at the very next election. However, it is my understanding that the early voting law was classified as an "emergency bill" when passed by the General Assembly. This status supposedly ensures that the law will become effective regardless of a successful petition effort. The most that a petition drive could accomplish is to place a referendum on the Nov. 2006 ballot which, by then, early voting would have already been in operation.

Posted by: Baltimore voter | April 20, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Actually, a lot of registered Democrats (including myself) intend to vote either early or absentee in order to be able to avoid the electronic voting machines -- which are entirely too easy to rig. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a national trend -- Republicans insisting that all voting take place on the "no paper trail" Diebold machines.

A year or two ago I would have called such statements as I am making "paranoid" or "extreme." But who can doubt with everything that has come out in the past couple years that there are not certain individuals who would have no qualms whatsoever fixing an election if they thought there was a chance to do it without being caught?

There is an easy fix. We should all insist on verifiable voting NOW.

Posted by: Georgia | April 20, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse


In case you did not follow the news, it was Governor Ehrlich who was pushing for the return to the optical scan machines. The Democratic Senate Leader Mike Miller never allowed the bill to come up for a vote.

In MD at least, the blame over the use of the Diebold machines lies with the Democrats

Posted by: Fred | April 20, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe that the MD Republican Party would engage in a petition drive to discourage any eligible Marylanders from voting. I find that pretty appalling. I don't care if people vote early or in the very last hour of election day. It's just so very important that they vote! Shame on the Maryland Republican Party. I suggest that this petition drive idea should be thrown in the trash.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse


I heard a rummor to the effect that Mike Miller killed the Paper Trail Bill at the behest of State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone. If true, then you have just GOT to wonder just what it is that Miller owes to Lamone.....

Posted by: Nat | April 20, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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